Mark 6:7-13


Mark 6:7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. (Buls: Then He called the twelve to Himself and began to send them out by twos and was giving them authority over the unclean spirits.)

"Called to Himself." Only Matthew mentions "His twelve disciples." Read the parallel accounts in Matthew 10:1-14 and Luke 9:1-6. Matthew gives a fuller account. In fact, Matthew speaks not only of this first trial mission but of their later mission to all the world.

"To send out" is the Greek word for "to apostle," to send out with a very specific commission.

Hendriksen gives the reason for sending by twos.

  1. To help and courage each other, and

  2. to be valid witnesses.

He notes that later Peter and Paul went out together, Acts. 3:1, Barnabas and Saul, Acts 13:1-3, and Paul and Silas.

The text indicates that the disciples would have authority only when He granted it. This was a given, not a possessed, power.

Read Luke 10:1-20 for a clear picture. He Who conquered Satan drove out unclean (evil) spirits. He gave this authority to His disciples, thereby indicated that they were His messengers. This special authority is not promised in the great commission, Matthew 28:18, or at Luke 24:47-49 and Acts 1:8, though at times the apostles exercised special charismatic gifts. This is true, Mark 16:17 notwithstanding. In this passage no specific command is given.

In Mark 6:7 nothing is said about preaching (as does Matthew). But it must be implicit in verse 7 because verse 11 speaks about hearing and verse 12 makes plain what they did.

Mark 6:8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff -- no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. (Buls: And He ordered them to take nothing along on their journey except a staff only, no bread, no bag, no money in their wallets,)

Now a series of commands. Verses 7 and 8 clearly show that first Christ gives and then He commands.

Hendriksen: Only that which is absolutely necessary must be taken along on the trip. Why? Because God will provide. To this may be added Matthew 10:10b: 'The worker is entitled to his support.'
Lenski: The orders which Jesus issues are to teach the apostles absolute dependence upon their Lord who sends them out.
Luther: They should speak or do nothing for the sake of money, honor, goods. The ministry of the Word seeks something different, has a different object, namely, eternal salvation and the honor of God.

Mark 6:9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. (Buls: but to wear sandals and not to wear two tunics [undergarments])

Note that the sentence begins (as was the case in verse 8) with indirect discourse, but changes to direct discourse.

Lenski: What Jesus is saying also here in Mark is: 'an extra tunic, extra pair of sandals, and an extra staff must not be taken along.'

Bible critics maintain that Mark 6:8-9 and Matthew 19:9-10 contradict each other.

Arndt: The difficulty presented by the above texts, when compared with each other, lies in this, that Jesus, according to Matthew, forbids the disciples to equip themselves with a staff, while according to Mark they may take a staff; and that, according to Matthew, they were told not to take shoes, while in Mark Jesus says that they might be shod with sandals. The main factor in harmonizing these statements is the difference between the verbs used. In Matthew the verb is 'provide'; in Mark 'take'. We see that in Matthew Jesus forbids the purchase or acquisition of any equipment; in Mark he speaks not of what they should not provide for themselves, but of what they might take along or not take along on their journey. What the Lord says to the disciples in Mark is practically this: 'God as you are.' They had a staff, this they might take with them; but they should not provide themselves with an additional one. They were shod with sandals, and this they should consider sufficient and not procure more footwear. Hence a careful reading of the two texts reveals that we are not dealing with two conflicting statements, but with two statements which supplement each other and were both spoken when Jesus gave His disciples instructions for their first missionary tour.
Lenski: The contradiction is only apparent: no new staff is to be provided. The same is true with regard to the sandals: no new ones are to be bought. The disciples are to go as they are, with such garments, sandals, and walking sticks as they have. . . They are to carry no extra sandals (Matthew) or to buy new ones.

Mark 6:10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. (Buls: And He went on to say to them: "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you leave that place.")

A new subject is introduced.

Hendriksen: How the disciples must decide in which home to stay is answered in Matthew 10:11. It was the duty of the hearers to extend hospitality . . . The spread of the gospel has the priority over personal likes and dislikes.
Lenski: The apostles are not to shift from one house to another, as if the first were not good enough for them, and they should a house which offered better food and lodging.

Well said. It would be highly offensive if a missionary or pastor gave the impression that he is seeking the best of material goods. This is axiomatic. Note the beautiful construction of the whole sentence.

Mark 6:11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." (Buls: Furthermore, whatever community does not receive you nor listens to you, as you leave, shake off the dust which clings to your feet as a warning to them.")

Verse 10 spoke of the house which "would" receive them. Verse 11 speaks of the house which "would not" receive them. The second verb explains the first: "not hear" explains "does not receive."

Hendriksen: What Jesus is here saying, therefore, is that any place whatever, be is a house, village, city, hamlet, that refuses to accept the Gospel must be considered unclean, as if it were pagan soil. Therefore such a center of unbelief must be treated similarly. Paul and Barnabas did exactly that when a persecution was organized against them in the Jewish district of Antioch of Pisidia, Acts 13:50-51.

"As a warning to them." They've been warned because they rejected the Gospel. Christians needs make no apologies for sternly warning people who will not listen to the Gospel.

Mark 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent. (Buls: As a result, after they had left, they preached that people should repent,)

First they went out. Then they proclaimed. Note that the first item is the preaching of repentance. According to Liddel et al in the Greek-English Lexicon,  in the classical Greek this word has two meanings:

  1. To regret;

  2. To change one's mind.

As an example of the first, a proverb is quoted: "A wise man thinks ahead so that he need not regret." The second meaning is used in such expressions as: "He planned to go but change his mind."

According to Bauer et al in their Greek-English Lexicon,  the meanings in early Christian literature are:

  1. To change one's mind, but none of the examples cited are from the New Testament;

  2. To have remorse, many examples from the New Testament and the early Christian literature.
Moulton Milligan: Its meaning deepens with Christianity, and in the New Testament it is more than 'repent', and indicates a complete change of attitude, spiritual and moral, towards God.

A good example from the Old Testament would be Nathan bringing David to a knowledge of his sin and then absolving him. Then look at Psalm 51. David's entire attitude changed.

A good New Testament example is Acts 2:38-42, Pentecost.

The Lutheran Confessions always understand the Greek word in the New Testament in the sense of "repent", not "change one's mind." In our day there is much synergistic preaching. People are told to change their minds, to make a decision for Christ. But repentance is a marvelous work of God in man, causing man to realize and confess his sins (law) and then to place his confidence in the merits and worthiness of Jesus Christ (Gospel).

Look at verse 12. It means: "They preached that people should repent" not "that people should change their minds." Here in verse 12 the word is used in the wider sense: "To repent and to believe." In Mark 1:15 it is used in the narrower sense.

Luther in the first of the 95 Theses, said:

When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said 'Repent ye' He meant that the whole life of the Christian should be one of repentance.

The meaning here is that the message was the message of a herald, not his own message, but the message of the one who sent him.

Mark 6:13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (Buls: and they were expelling many demons and they were anointing many sick people with oil with the result that they healed them.)

The verb denotes a repeated action. "The sick" are literally "those who have no strength."

"Anoint" from which the word Christ is derived, occurs five times and is always used in a metaphysical sense. The thought in 13b is found only in Mark. Is this sentence speaking about the medicinal use of olive oil or is it something greater?

Ylvisaker: That they anointed the sick with oil has been added by Mark alone. This procedure was not enjoined by the Lord. They did this of their own accord. They employ the rite not to symbolize the redemption power of Jesus or the communication of the Spirit and the awakening of faith, but as a therapeutic agency to alleviate pain . . . It is in harmony with this account of the application of oil by the apostles that the well-known passage, James 5:14, must be interpreted.

Lenski and Hendriksen do not accept this interpretation and it is difficult to understand what they mean. They understand the healing as miraculous. Ylvisaker does not. Ylvisaker's interpretation makes good sense and is preferable. In other words, according to Mark, the disciples not only healed miraculously, but also medicinally. They did three things: preached, cast out demons, healed.

Critics claim that either Matthew and Luke copied Mark or redacted his Gospel. But the variations between Christ's instructions in Matthew and those in Mark, plus the fact that the last clause in Mark 6:13 is found alone in Mark, indicate that the Gospel writers, in all probability were individual authors, not dependent on one another.

Hendriksen: In the wording of Christ's instruction there are a few variations. These suffice to show that even though the Gospel-writers in all probability used written as well as oral sources, they remained authors or composers, were never merely copyists. Thus in the original Matthew 10:14 and Luke 9:5 use one word for dust, Mark 6:11 another, but in either case "dust" is the proper English translation. So also Matthew mentions 'that house or that city' Mark 'any place' Luke 'that city' but there is no basic difference. Matthew in this connection says nothing about a testimony. Mark has 'shake the dust from the soles of your feet as a testimony to them'; Luke: 'as a testimony against them.' But properly interpreted, the meaning is the same.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series B Mark-John, Sundays after Pentecost, Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1981, pp. 26-28

Return to top

Return to Buls' Notes Index